U.S. Stocks Close Modestly Higher Ahead Of Holiday Weekend

Market trading boards are seen at the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney, Friday, February 9, 2018. ( AAP Image/Ben Rushton) NO ARCHIVING

After moving to the upside early in the session, stocks fluctuated over the course of a holiday-shortened trading day on Thursday. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before eventually closing modestly higher.

The major averages all ended the day in positive territory after closing mixed for two straight days. The Dow rose 70.04 points or 0.2 percent to 30,199.87, the Nasdaq rose 33.62 points or 0.3 percent to 12,804.73 and the S&P 500 climbed 13.05 points or 0.4 percent to 3,703.06.

For the holiday-shortened week, the major averages turned in a mixed performance. The S&P 500 dipped by 0.2 percent, while the Dow inched up by 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq rose by 0.4 percent.

The modestly higher close on Wall Street came amid news that U.K. and the European Union have reached a post-Brexit trade agreement.

The news of the agreement comes just a week before a December 31st deadline, offsetting recent concerns about a potential no-deal Brexit.

“It has been a long and winding road but we have got a good deal to show for it,” said EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “It is fair, it is a balanced deal and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”

The rollout of coronavirus vaccines has also propped up hopes that the economic recovery can gain momentum next year.

Uncertainty about the stimulus package approved by Congress kept buying interest subdued, however, as President Donald Trump has expressed opposition to the bill.

House Democrats sought to increase the direct payments included in the bill to $2,000, as the president called for but were blocked by Republicans.

Meanwhile, Democrats blocked the GOP’s efforts to address the foreign aid included in the package, which was another one of Trump’s concerns about the bill.

The relief package was attached to a government spending bill, and Trump risks a government shutdown next Tuesday is he does not sign the legislation.

Nonetheless, many traders remained on the sidelines ahead of the Christmas weekend, with the markets closing earlier than usual.

Despite the uptick by the broader markets, most of the major sectors ended the session showing only modest moves on the day.

Oil service stocks showed a significant move to the downside, however, with the Philadelphia Oil Service Index falling by 1.5 percent. The weakness in the sector came as the price of crude oil lingers near the unchanged line.

Natural gas and airline stocks also gave back ground after moving sharply higher on Wednesday, while notable strength was visible among housing, semiconductor and commercial real estate stocks.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day, with the German markets closed for the holidays. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have regained ground after coming under pressure in the previous session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, has fallen 2.9 basis points to 0.926 percent.

Looking Ahead

Following the long weekend, next week’s trading is likely to remain relatively light ahead of the New Year’s Day holiday next Friday.

Developments regarding the stimulus package may attract attention along with reports on pending home sales and weekly jobless claims.

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